Time for another travel-date with Fantasy Review Barn! This time, the topic is Immortals.
Immortals are fairly common in Fantasyland There are three kinds:
1) Goddesses and Gods, who exist forever unless people stop believing in them.
2) Elves or Dark Lords, who live forever unless someone kills them.
3) Humans who are (a) Cursed and have to spend Eternity drearily Questing and/or hating everything (see Curses and Quests), or (b) Magic Users. These generally find plenty to occupy the long years and mostly have rather a good time.
As always, I will leave the book-lists to the other participants in the blog-tour that Tough Traveling has kind of become. It’s fun seeing (and contemplating) what other writers have done with these tropes, but I’d rather talk about myself. Meeeeee, meeeeee!
No, not me. My stuff, my stuuuuuuuff!
Anyway, let’s see.
Of the Type 1 (Goddesses and Gods who exist due to belief), I can’t say I actually have any. At least, not with the existing-by-belief caveat. The closest I can come to that specific condition is Brigydde of the Trifold Goddess (and by extension, Breana), because she began life as a human but achieved apotheosis after death due to the worship of her followers.
This gets into the mechanics of divinity, though. My deities (of which there are…13 I think, living or dead) are not sustained by faith. They are immortal entities in their own right, and if everyone suddenly forgot them, they wouldn’t vanish — nor would they cease to be immortal. They would just technically cease to be gods, I suppose, because you need worshipers to be a god…
Instead, my gods manipulate the energies ‘sent’ to them by their faithful through prayer or ritual or bloody sacrifice. Brigydde and the rest of the Trifold are the most transparent in this: their worshipers are aware that their prayers do not ‘feed’ the goddesses, but empower them to send that energy to other members of the faith in need. They act like reservoirs, storing the bounty of good times and redistributing it when there is strife — Brigydde healing, Breana and Brancir strengthening. All of their actions take place through their faithful, because that’s where the power comes from. It’s a collaboration, with the goddesses as directors.
The other deities do variations on that theme, though few of them give back as high a percentage of their tithed energy as the Trifold Goddesses. And one of them is legitimately dead despite having plenty of worshipers: the God of Law. While he was initially weakened by the mass murder of his knights, that would not have killed him or even kicked him from godhood, because there were — and are — plenty of lay-followers. Instead, he had to be torn apart by another deity.
So this really puts them into the Immortal-Until-Killed category, which is Type 2.
However, Type 2 also supposedly hosts Elves and their ilk. I admit I have my elf-cognates — the varieties of wraiths — but they’re not Type 2. They just plain live forever, whether someone kills them or not. I need to do a Realm Profile for The Grey, because when wraiths are slain on this world, it’s just their physical shell that is destroyed; their essences get lost in the gap between the physical and spirit-realms and wander aimlessly until guided back to one of their ships where they can re-embody — or caught by something like the Thorn Curse. Their essences can not be killed outright, though they can be eaten by entities like the Ravager — but even then, they’re not gone. They remain inside the entity that ate them.
It is possible that they can permanently die. As entities of the lighter realms, they suffer on Halci — it’s too dense, too physical and shadowy. If they were forced further into the dark realms, they might be quenched… But then they might just adapt to that too, like they tolerate being eaten.
So wraiths can’t die at all, though they spend an awful lot of time drifting aimlessly like ghosts if their physical shell is broken. Which means they’re…stronger than the gods? Or at least more persistent.
Legitimately in the Immortal-Until-Killed category are the spirits and elementals. Quite a few of them are dead-dead-dead, having been slain by the wraiths or otherwise lost to misadventure. Even the Guardian and Ravager are only Immortal-Until-Killed, and they know it. Much of their behavior is based on it.
As for Type 3, well.
There aren’t many Immortality Curses going around. I can state one character who was originally the recipient of such, but who then segued into something a bit more Type 2: Gwydren Greymark, the Hammer of Brancir. We don’t see much of him, but we hear some rumors, like how the Lion-spirit possessed him as a child and stole his youth, or how he serves as a divine matchmaker and sometimes trundles around the world pretending to be a merchant. He’s an odd one.
Likewise, immortal Magic Users are in short supply. Magic itself does not grant extended life, and while many immortals are magic-users (see: wraiths), the vast majority of human mages will live out a normal human lifespan, croak, and go to their gods (or to Death if they have none).
In the past, some human necromancers knew tricks to cheat Death, but the art of necromancy was widely extirpated about 400 years ago and Death’s Unseen Huntsmen picked off most of the hold-outs in the intervening centuries. Death likes things neat and tidy.
Thus, there are vanishingly few magic-based immortals running around, and the ones who do exist certainly aren’t having a good time of it.
That’s…pretty much it, I think. If you’re a human on Halci, you’ll have a human’s lifespan no matter what magic you study or god you follow. And if you try to break the mold, there are powers around who will make you regret it.